Cable news might not show it these days, but there are actually great things happening in this country. For one thing, our economy is seeing significant and steady growth, and that’s good news for everybody.
Did you know that the economy grew by 156,000 jobs last month? The month before that it grew by more than 200,000 jobs. Did you know that more than 1.3 million jobs have been created just this year?
Despite all the division and bitterness that exists on television and social media, I really believe most people are primarily concerned with their ability to get and keep a job so they can provide for their family. I’m encouraged by our economic momentum, but there are some major challenges ahead that will determine whether we will build upon it or squander it.
One challenge is our health care system. Letting it continue to fail is not an option. This is an issue Republicans have been campaigning on for seven years, yet when it came time to get it done, the divisions emerged in a pretty stark way. Part of that is the legislative process – we are supposed to disagree, debate, and refine legislation. I’m glad we ultimately passed our Obamacare repeal bill in the House, but after watching what happened in the Senate, it is clear that a broader coalition must be built in order to carry this progress over the finish line. We can’t afford not to get this right, so count me as someone who is ready to roll up my sleeves and get the job done.
Another challenge is comprehensive tax reform. The potential that pro-growth tax reform holds for our economy is almost limitless. I believe we need to lower tax rates for every taxpayer so that Americans can keep and invest more of what they earn. We should also lower corporate tax rates to be globally competitive while also closing the loopholes built into the tax code to keep from paying our current high tax rates. Finally, we should clean house at the IRS and make the agency work for the taxpayers, not against them.
Another challenge is the nation’s aging infrastructure. Having reliable roads, bridges, ports, and railways is fundamental to our ability to do business, but I’m afraid we haven’t done enough to properly maintain them. If we make these appropriate investments right now and enhance rural broadband access, we can turn what is a serious liability into major strength for our state and our country.
One challenge that is critically important, but hasn’t received the attention it deserves, is our skyrocketing national debt. We are now nearly $20 trillion in debt, and I’m worried about how that is going to affect our economic future and the lives of our children and grandchildren. I voted against the latest plan to raise our nation’s debt limit because the proposal did not contain any reforms to curb federal spending.
Congress has no business raising the debt limit without reining in the runaway spending that is causing our debt problem. Every day I hear from constituents who are concerned about our nearly $20 trillion in debt and frustrated by Washington’s unwillingness to address it. The problem won’t be easy to solve, but we have to try. The deal that just passed is temporary, so we will have another opportunity to enact spending reforms later this year. I sincerely hope we can negotiate a responsible agreement that will help put our country on a more sustainable financial path.
Our country has strong economic momentum building. I will do everything I can to ensure that we capitalize on these historic opportunities and not squander them.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.